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The Talks at Google podcast - where great minds meet.

Talks at Google brings the world’s most influential thinkers, creators, makers, and doers all to one place. Every episode is taken from a video that can be seen at

Mar 18, 2022

Psychologist Kelly McGonical explores what influences us to procrastinate, why we fail to resist temptation, and teaches that small interventions can have large, positive outcomes. Based on her wildly popular course "The Science of Willpower," her book “The Willpower Instinct” is the first book to explain the science of self-control and how it can be harnessed to improve our health, happiness, and productivity.

Informed by the latest research and combining cutting-edge insights from psychology, economics, neuroscience, and medicine, McGonical explains exactly what willpower is, how it works, and why it matters. Readers will learn that willpower is a mind-body response, not a virtue. It is a biological function that can be improved through mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and sleep. Willpower is not an unlimited resource - too much self-control can actually be bad for your health.

Guilt and shame over your setbacks can lead to giving in again, but self-forgiveness and self-compassion can boost self-control - in fact, giving up control is sometimes the only way to gain self-control. Our willpower failures are contagious—you can catch the desire to overspend or overeat from your friends­­—but you can also catch self-control from the right role models.

“The Willpower Instinct” combines life-changing prescriptive advice and complementary exercises to help readers with goals ranging from losing weight to more patient parenting, less procrastination, better health, and greater productivity at work.

Originally published in January of 2012.

Visit to watch the video.